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  1. Although Dustin May’s appearance in Game 2 of the World Series didn’t go to plan, at least one group of fans was pleased with his performance. “Just taking the mound was a big moment for Dustin,” said Jeffrey Dunn, CEO of Children’s Television Workshop. “It was big moment for all of us here.” Dunn was referencing the fact that Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), home of Big Bird, Miss Piggy, and Elmo, created May in the late summer of 1997. He is the first Muppet to pitch in a World Series. “We’re incredibly proud of Dustin and the fearless team of puppeteers that controls his every move,” said Dunn. “We know they have the ability to bounce back if the Dodgers call his number again.” May, originally called Red Strummer, was originally slated to replace Floyd Pepper as the bassist for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem when Pepper joined the Riverbottom Nightmare Band. When the latter broke up due to a dispute over songwriting credits, Pepper returned to the Mayhem and May was repurposed as a baseball Muppet. “We had this super athletic and lanky Muppet with electric stuff,” said one former CTW employee. “Word got out pretty damn quick. The Dodgers were scouting the Sesame Street set for months, just glad to see him and the seven people who control his arms, legs, and facial expressions get to baseball’s biggest stage.” May is not to be confused with the similar-looking Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who is an old-timey gold prospector trapped in an era not his own, per multiple MLB sources. “Yeah, we get asked about (Turner) a lot,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s definitely not a Muppet. For one thing, he goes through more hardtack and pemmican than any ballplayer I’ve seen since Rich Hill. He also says ‘Gooold. Goooooold.’ He says it a lot.”
  2. There is no more frustrating word to me in modern baseball than analytics. I love and fully embrace the new avenues in which we are able to evaluate and prepare in regards to the game of baseball. Unfortunately, boiling it down to a buzzword as “analytics” has become, leads to little more than a quick note suggestive of being well versed in actual understanding. This World Series is about two organizations that are fully capable of turning up their nose at those instances. Let’s not be naïve, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the second highest payroll in baseball for the 2020 season. It’s not as though Dave Roberts’ team is starved for talent. Similarly built organizations like the New York Yankees (1st) and the Boston Red Sox (3rd) find themselves at home, however. One key difference for the Dodgers is talent utilization. On Sunday night, settling in for a game seven against the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles started Dustin May. He was used as an opener with Tony Gonsolin working as the bulk arm. Quickly into the action the broadcast wondered whether that decision came from the manager or the front office. The likely reality is that the answer is simply both. Suggesting that modern evaluation for baseball success is hidden behind computer computations and that the game is played on paper wildly misunderstands analytics. The point isn’t to simply plug in the components of a calculated answer, but instead best position yourself based upon expected outcomes and marry that with the game on the field. Certainly, the Dodgers have paid for their fair share of talent, what they also know is how to best utilize it in order to capitalize on the effectiveness. There’s an incredible amount of nuance when it comes to how teams deploy information. Some quick digging shows that Los Angeles shifted 55% of the time in 2020. That was more than any team in baseball, one of only two organizations to do so more than 50% of the time and was the same standing they were in for 2019. Defensive positioning is just one call out that can reflect a progressive way of playing the game. The reality is that there’s more than one way to squeeze out opportunity in the win column. Take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays for example. They’ve long been considered *the* organization when it comes to deploying competitive advantages through analytical assessments. With the 28th highest payroll in baseball this year, they played to an American League best record and represent the league as the 2nd best team in the sport. Defensive positioning isn’t the way in which Tampa found themselves locking down a competitive advantage in 2020. They shifted just 33% of the time, 19th overall in the game. They didn’t bludgeon their way to being an offensive juggernaut. Hitting just 80 dingers they were only 14th in baseball, but the 9.4 fWAR compiled led to a top 10 offense within the game. The Rays made sure to value outs. In over 4,000 plate appearances this year not once did they sacrifice bunt. Where Tampa put things together in 2020 was on the mound. That’s an interesting revelation because they don’t have a Clayton Kershaw or Gerrit Cole. The Rays made an incredible swap (and partly thanks to Pittsburgh’s poor talent evaluation) in turning Chris Archer into the Tyler Glasnow package. Beyond the man with the hair and Blake Snell though, the Rays rotational is relatively nondescript. Their bullpen, however, is another story. In 2020 the Rays owned the best bullpen in baseball generating a combined 3.6 fWAR. By now you’d hope the names are more widely known, but from Castillo to Anderson, and Fairbanks to Curtiss, it’s a unit made of lockdown arms. What Tampa has done is rely on their own ability to develop arms rather than pay or reach for answers. Aaron Slegers and John Curtiss were castoffs from other organizations, Anderson was targeted in trade as was Fairbanks, and Castillo was internally groomed. What happens in Tampa Bay remains reliant upon open communication and buy-in from everyone involved. Being able to suggest that length from a starter isn’t as necessary as quality. Having the opportunity to deploy any arm at any time or doing away with traditional norms tied to specific roles, those are all instances that numbers back but can’t convey. By understanding how to gain a statistical advantage and then being able to deploy it is where the next stage of the game is taking us. Right now, we’re still too stuck on analytics being some catch-all descriptor, and there’s still a vocal old-guard looking to tear down progression. In all ventures however, the goal is progress. We’re seeing that in this sport, and the World Series will highlight it. This isn’t about a top and bottom spending team. It’s about two organizations that best utilized all of the talent they had at their disposal. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. What could it look like? How could MLB promote more exciting baseball? Is 162 the right amount of games? Is the inclusion of reality TV a real thing? Is it logistically even possible? So I came up with an idea. It's a little crazy, (I think) more exciting, fewer games, includes weekly reality TV and (most likely) would be a logistical mess (in every aspect imaginable). But would be all sorts of entertaining. Oh, and it includes two new expansion teams. We need 32 teams for this to work. Phase 1 runs for 13.5 weeks and each team plays 27 three-games series. The phase runs from March 25 until June 27. Each team would play each division opponent for five series (15 games x 3 teams = 45 total games) and each league opponent in one three-game series (12 teams x 3 games = 36 games.) The first phase would be 81 total games. You would alternate home-field advantage (and the 41st home game) every other year. At the conclusion of Phase 1, each team would get a full week off, which includes all the All-Star Game festivities, and, potentially, the trade deadline. Phase 2 is where things start to get different. It will be exclusively five-game series for nine weeks, with those games all being played between Tuesday and Sunday. It's also the beginning of the "playoffs." Crazy, huh? Stay with me. Only the teams that finished Phase 1 in fourth place would play a best-of-five series in the first week, though. The other 12 teams in each league would match up with an opposing division and play a five-game series, with the games counting towards their overall record. In the second week of Phase 2, the two third-place teams with the worst record would play the fourth-place winners, with the fourth-place losers also facing off (all ties would be broken with head-to-head games, as everyone plays league opponents, initially, an odd amount of times). Non-playoff teams would play an interleague opponent. This is where Manfred can get his reality TV. The third-place team with the best record gets to choose which fourth-place winner they want to play. Depending on how far in advance MLB wants to do things, they could also announce all other weekly matchups. Teams all travel on Monday and all tickets go on sale Monday morning (which would help limit after-market sales, maybe). I have the whole bracket made up here, if you're interested. Essentially, over the nine-week phase you slowly introduce all the teams into a bracket-style tournament. Each week culminating with a primetime, Sunday Night two-hour show that reveals and previews the next week. Yes, Sunday Night baseball would probably have to go. Yes, Monday is probably now baseball-less. And, yes, you also don't know where or when your favorite team will be playing for the upcoming week until days in advance. (Though I imagine someone smarter than me could work out these kinks.) Over those nine weeks, no team will play more than 45 games. Some teams (if swept or sweep in best-of-five sets) could play as little as 27 games. (Though you could make those best-of-five series a regular five-game series if you really wanted to. Again, that's for someone smarter to decide.) Phase 3 would begin in early September - right in time to compete with the NFL - and the first two weeks would include all teams, all would have a chance to make what would eventually become a more traditional playoff look. All best-of-seven series over a ten-game stretch. (The four teams in each league that lose in both Weeks 1 and 2 would be eliminated and could enter an 8-team tournament to determine draft order.) If you look at the bracket, you'll notice a lot of "battle back" games starting at week 8; teams looking to re-enter for the chance to win the World Series. That would end after Week 11, when the four winners in each league enter the Division Series (week 12). The winners then play the Championship Series (week 13). The season would be capped off by the World Series (week 14) which would take place between October 17 and October 26. It would be a seismic shift. Fewer games. More intrigue. And fascinating to think about. Little changes are silly. Big, out-of-the-box changes, though, might just attract new fans, all while keeping the old ones.
  4. A little over a week ago, Joel Sherman introduced a potential playoff expansion idea that commissioner Manfred may allegedly be considering. Our Matthew Lenz covered it here. That led me to do some thinking: What if the whole schedule and playoff system was completely destroyed and we started over from scratch?What could it look like? How could MLB promote more exciting baseball? Is 162 the right amount of games? Is the inclusion of reality TV a real thing? Is it logistically even possible? So I came up with an idea. It's a little crazy, (I think) more exciting, fewer games, includes weekly reality TV and (most likely) would be a logistical mess (in every aspect imaginable). But would be all sorts of entertaining. Oh, and it includes two new expansion teams. We need 32 teams for this to work. Phase 1 runs for 13.5 weeks and each team plays 27 three-games series. The phase runs from March 25 until June 27. Each team would play each division opponent for five series (15 games x 3 teams = 45 total games) and each league opponent in one three-game series (12 teams x 3 games = 36 games.) The first phase would be 81 total games. You would alternate home-field advantage (and the 41st home game) every other year. At the conclusion of Phase 1, each team would get a full week off, which includes all the All-Star Game festivities, and, potentially, the trade deadline. Phase 2 is where things start to get different. It will be exclusively five-game series for nine weeks, with those games all being played between Tuesday and Sunday. It's also the beginning of the "playoffs." Crazy, huh? Stay with me. Only the teams that finished Phase 1 in fourth place would play a best-of-five series in the first week, though. The other 12 teams in each league would match up with an opposing division and play a five-game series, with the games counting towards their overall record. In the second week of Phase 2, the two third-place teams with the worst record would play the fourth-place winners, with the fourth-place losers also facing off (all ties would be broken with head-to-head games, as everyone plays league opponents, initially, an odd amount of times). Non-playoff teams would play an interleague opponent. This is where Manfred can get his reality TV. The third-place team with the best record gets to choose which fourth-place winner they want to play. Depending on how far in advance MLB wants to do things, they could also announce all other weekly matchups. Teams all travel on Monday and all tickets go on sale Monday morning (which would help limit after-market sales, maybe). I have the whole bracket made up here, if you're interested. Essentially, over the nine-week phase you slowly introduce all the teams into a bracket-style tournament. Each week culminating with a primetime, Sunday Night two-hour show that reveals and previews the next week. Yes, Sunday Night baseball would probably have to go. Yes, Monday is probably now baseball-less. And, yes, you also don't know where or when your favorite team will be playing for the upcoming week until days in advance. (Though I imagine someone smarter than me could work out these kinks.) Over those nine weeks, no team will play more than 45 games. Some teams (if swept or sweep in best-of-five sets) could play as little as 27 games. (Though you could make those best-of-five series a regular five-game series if you really wanted to. Again, that's for someone smarter to decide.) Phase 3 would begin in early September - right in time to compete with the NFL - and the first two weeks would include all teams, all would have a chance to make what would eventually become a more traditional playoff look. All best-of-seven series over a ten-game stretch. (The four teams in each league that lose in both Weeks 1 and 2 would be eliminated and could enter an 8-team tournament to determine draft order.) If you look at the bracket, you'll notice a lot of "battle back" games starting at week 8; teams looking to re-enter for the chance to win the World Series. That would end after Week 11, when the four winners in each league enter the Division Series (week 12). The winners then play the Championship Series (week 13). The season would be capped off by the World Series (week 14) which would take place between October 17 and October 26. It would be a seismic shift. Fewer games. More intrigue. And fascinating to think about. Little changes are silly. Big, out-of-the-box changes, though, might just attract new fans, all while keeping the old ones. Click here to view the article
  5. After the deflating 49ers game I thought it was time to reflect on the two major sports teams (sorry Timberwolves – you do not have a story to tell and Los Angeles stole the Lakers. Wild you too lack a story to tell and Dallas stole the North Stars). The tale has some high points, but a lot of really low ones too. I will try to avoid 41 donut, taking a knee, and other embarrassments that have plagued the Vikings. At the same time I will try to avoid the improbable playoff losing streak of the Twins against the Yankees. This is just a summary and you can cry or dwell on the bright spots. Twins 3 world series 2 victories 1 loss games 11 - 10 Twins Wild Card game 0 – 1 (2017) Six League division series 1 – 5 games 5 – 17 League Championship series 2 – 3 games 9 – 12 The Twins played in 65 post season games 25 - 40 The Senators went to three world series and won one. The Vikings have been to the playoffs 31 times in their history Should you want to relive all the endings you can go to https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/min/playoffs.htm They have played in 51 post season games 21 – 30 Wild Card games 7 – 7 Divisional round 10 – 13 Conference Championships 4 – 6 Superbowls 0 - 4 Since 1961 we have seen these two teams get into 116 post season games. Collectively we are 46 – 70. But that does not cover our anguish. Let’s get the Twins to another World Series and start a new narrative.
  6. If the playoffs started today – these are the teams and their top three-man rotations. Which would you choose? I have them listed as I would rank them. Starting three for the playoffs 1. Houston – Verlander, Cole, Greinke 2. Cleveland – Bieber, Clevinger, Kluber 3. Tampa – Morton, Chirinos, Glasnow or Snell if he returns 4. Yankees – Tanaka, Paxton, German or Happ 5. Twins – Berrios, Pineda, Odorizzi Houston has Aaron Sanchez and Wade Miley, Cleveland has the two rookie pitchers we just saw, Yankees have CC Sabathis, Tampa will make something up, and the Twins have Gibson in reserve. NL – 1. Dodgers - Ryu, Beuhler, Kershaw 2. Nationals – Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin 3. Braves – Teheran, Soroka, Fried 4. Cubs – Lester, Hendricks, Quintana 5. Cardinals – Mikolas, Wainwright, Flaherty The Cardinals have Wacha and Hudson in reserve, the cubs have Yu Darvish (on Boy) and are we glad we lost that signing battle, the Nationals have Annibal Sanchez, and the Braves hope Dallas Kuechel will be dealing by then. Pick your poison. The Twins rotation might be as good as the Yankees and Cardinals, but beyond that it is a guess and the Bullpen is the next question. Chapman or Rogers? This keeps the Yankees above us. Not that Rogers and Romo are not doing well, but I think Rogers is wearing out and who do you trust in a tight game against a really good lineup after them? Bullpen: AL 1. Yankees – Chapman and Ottavino 2. Houston – Osuna and Pressley 3. Cleveland - Hand and Perez 4. Twins – Rogers and Romo 5. Tampa – Pagan and Roe NL 1. Dodgers – Jansen and Baez 2. Washington – Doolittle and Suero 3. St Louis – Hicks and Miller 4. Braves – Jackson and Swarzak 5. Cubs – Strop and Kintzler Yankees ahead by a large margin in BP, then Houston with Dodgers and Cleveland equal and the rest are hard to rate. What is interesting is that three former Twins are in these BP pairs (not counting our own two). That is it. Houston is my pick at this point based on pitchers and the Nationals and Dodgers tied for NL side.
  7. Ted wrote "Arguably the most exciting game the Minnesota Twins have played in nearly a decade, the home team dropped a 14-12 affair last night (err this morning) at Target Field." In his recent post - Yankees blog. So I got to thinking - what are the best games the Twins have played - win or lose? Do the two extra innings affairs with the Oakland A's count? Certainly the game seven Jack Morris game is number one. I was there and will never forget it. (Don't tell me Jack isn't a hall of famer.) And I would put game six with Puckett's HR in the twelfth right behind it ( I was there too - so bias is showing). How about game seven of the 1987 World Series, the 500th world series game played, with the Vikings having to postpone their game for a day, where miscue after miscue by umps, teams, runners ended up with the Twins winning on Roy Smalley's 35th birthday and in his last game. He would appear four times in the WS and get on base four times. But this was more about Hrbek and first base and hitting a grand slam. Or maybe game one in 1987 which was not a great game except we won behind Viola, it was the first WS game ever played in a dome, and Dan Gladden hit a grand slam? In the 1965 World Series Jim Kaat out pitched Sandy Koufax to win game two and then lost in the best game - number 7 by a score of 2 - 0 with Koufax taking the series title for the Dodgers. In 1962 Jack Kralick won a no-hitter 1 - 0. How is that for nail biting? May 11, 2011 Francisco Liriano won a no-hitter 1 - 0 to tie Jack Kralick's margin of victory. Dean Chance also had a one run margin for a no-hitter 2 -1. When I looked up the Twins longest games I came up with the Tampa Bay Rays beating us in extra innings in 5 hours and 42 minutes this year, and then the Twins winning in 17 on a Kepler hit June 19. I would keep that on the list. Then June 27 we lost in 18 innings! I have to have the 2009, 163rd game on my list - 6 -5, 12 innings, loser goes home final to the season! Bob Kneppel won for us - I cannot even remember him and Fernando Rodney lost for the Tigers! And we came back from a 3 - 0 deficit. Carlos Gomez scores on a Luis Castillo hit! Then there are the Johan games -8/15/2006 - 8 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 10 Ks (when Ks were harder to get) and we won 3 - 2 against Cleveland. 9/17/2005 seven innings against KC. No runs,1h, 1BB. 8in, 4H, 2BB, 13 K against White Sox on June 28, 2002. Poor Texas played against Johan in 2007 in what is arguably his best game with 83 of his 112 pitches for strikes, 8 innings no runs 2H 0 BB 17 K Twins won 1-0. My ranking: Game 7 1991 Game 6 1991 Game 163 2009 Johan Santana 2 hitter versus Texas 2007. 1962 Kralick No-hitter 2011 Liriano No-hitter Johan Santana wins Game 1 - 1987 WS Game 7 - 1965 WS (the only loss I can put on the list) Game 7 - 1987 WS Game 2 - Yankee Series this week for tension and drama June 19th - Kepler wins for us in 17 Fill it up with your favorites.
  8. Right now, Minnesota has a 7-8 record in July (.467) and a 22-20 record (.523) since the start of June. This could be explained, among many other things, by the toughening of the schedule. Four of the five teams the Twins faced this month are above .500, but still, they are 7-6 in those games (.538). So, even though they aren’t playing as well as before, they are doing their homework against contenders. But, have other great teams gone through similar storms? Yes, they have. The 2018 Red Sox, who won 108 games during the regular season, had their worst monthly record in September, when they had a 15-11 record (.577). Besides, they had four three-game losing streaks, three of them in August and September. So far this year, the Twins have only had one of those and in spite of the terrible month they’re having, they are still on pace to win 99 games on the season, which would be a record 5% worse than the 2018 Boston’s. July isn’t over yet and the Twins have a season worst .467 record. But the 2017 Astros had a nightmarish month of August that was even worse than that. In that month, they had an 11-17 record (.393) that was very difficult to explain. The pitching staff who had the MLB’s 10th-best ERA (4.18) had an even better ERA during that month (4.00), which also ranked 10th in the majors. Their offense, which until that point had been the most run-producing one in the majors, scored the fourth least runs during that month. What’s odd here is that four of the position players who played at least 25 games during that month had at least .290 AVG and .719 OPS. That didn’t stop them from getting swept by struggling the Chicago White Sox and going 2-4 against division rival Texas Rangers, who ended the season below the .500 mark. Similarly, the 2016 Cubs faced a major drop in production during the regular season. Exactly like this year’s Twins, they struggled in the two middle months of the season. During the month of June, they had a 16-12 record (.571), only slightly better than the Twins last month (15-12, .556). On the following month, Chicago had an even worse result, as they had a record of 12-14 (.462), even worse than the current July for the Twins. Those Cubs offense scored the third most runs in the majors until June to 12 in July and went from an MLB-best ERA until June to the league’s seventh worst in July during 2016. All three former World Series champions made critical moves before the deadlines (non-waivers and waivers). Last year the Red Sox brought in Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi and Ian Kinsler. The Astros in 2017 got superstar starter Justin Verlander in the end of August through waivers and also brought in Francisco Liriano earlier. Chicago strengthened their pitching staff before their 2016 post-season run by bringing in relievers Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery. The Twins are facing their most critical stretch of the season and there’s no doubt that the outcome of their season will be decided now. So far, most fans are frustrated with how long it’s taking for the front office to make moves to improve the team. But just like the aforementioned teams, the simple fact that they’ve had bad stretches doesn’t mean much. Make the right moves now, take advantage of the easier schedule during the final two months of the season and you have yourself a shot.
  9. "Hot catchers are a lot like goalies standing on their heads in hockey - once you get on a roll in the postseason, you tend to stick with your horse. With his batting average hovering around .300, Garver has a knack for clutch hits in big spots and could absolutely take over a tight game with one swing of his bat. Maybe even a series." Click below for the full article on why the catcher is the most important position in baseball and why that will equare to a Twins Championship https://www.boutdamn.com/blog/twins-world-series-hopes-rest-behind-the-plate
  10. A nice note from CNN: Say the name Bill Buckner, and what do you think of? Probably a baseball rolling under his glove and through his legs. And that's just not fair. Buckner, who died yesterday at age 69, was an elite hitter, winning a batting title with the Chicago Cubs in 1980 (hitting .324), and he was an All-Star in 1981. He managed to hang around the big leagues for 22 years, an accomplishment in itself. But he'll always be associated with that fielding error in the 1986 World Series that led to the Boston Red Sox losing Game 6 to the New York Mets. Hits‎: ‎2,715 Batting average‎: ‎.289 Runs batted in‎: ‎1,208 Home runs‎: ‎174 WAR 15.1
  11. Memories of an old usher with a few tears in my eyes. 1961 was my first and only year as an usher at Metropolitan Stadium, but what a year it was. We were not dreaming of World Series and Superbowls – in fact there was no Superbowl in 1961! The old Washington Senators and their slogan of First in War Last in the American League did not count any more. These were the Twins – a new creation out of an old organization. We did not finish last! We finished 7th out of 10 ! But that is something, isn’t it? There was something special about that team. Camilo Pascual on the mound with Pedro Ramos, Kralick, and Kaat made a good rotation and we even had the token Gopher – Paul Giel on the squad. At bat all the sluggers were there – Lemon, Killebrew, Allison, Battey, Versalles, and the sparkplug, Billy Martin. Our new team enthusiasm seemed to have some real validity. And it did. In 1965 we went to the World Series and I spent hours in the Dayton’s break room on fifth floor watching the old black and white TV and wishing Sandy Koufax had more than one religious day that week. We battled and lost 2 – 0 on the final and seventh game – to Koufax, of course. But we were there in the big show and, of course, we knew we would be back the next year and for many years from then on. The Minnesota spots fan needed this. I had been to the Minneapolis Lakers games at the armory and the Auditorium and watched players like Elgin Baylor before they moved to the lakeless Los Angeles [Yes I am bitter and will never route for them, just like the Atlanta version of my old Milwaukee Braves.] The Lakers had won SIX NBA championships during their time in the City of Lakes, but enough of that because we had something even better, the Number one football team in the country. In the Fall of 1961 we had gridiron heroes at the University of Minnesota and in the NFL. In those days the Gophers were a powerhouse and the number one team in the nation (1960). We had multiple Rosebowl appearances because of Carl Eller and Bobby Bell – two NFL Hall of Famers and Sandy Stephens at QB. In 1961 we were ranked 6th with a record of 10 – 2. We knew that Murray Warmath would be keeping us on top of the rankings for decades ahead! The new show in town was the Minnesota Vikings, not a transfer team, but brand new and not too sparkling. In fact, they were expected to go 0 – 14, but this team drew the love of the Minnesota fans and shocked the football world by winning three games. They shocked the football world in the very first game against the old established Bears (who, along with the Packers, were one of the original professional teams). Maybe it was the ghosts of the Duluth Eskimos that were on the field that first game when old reliable and not that good quarterback George Shaw came off the field and unheralded draft choice Fran Tarkington came on. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth! We were undefeated. Well we did not end up undefeated, but what a memory and what a quarterback! In 1964 Carl Eller came from the winning Gophers to the Vikings and life was looking up. In 1964 the Vikings were tied for second! Jim Marshall and Carl Eller – half the Purple People Eaters were on the team. In 1965 the Twins were in the Series and no one knew it would take 22 years to get back there or that we would have only 3 world series appearances in 54 years. But this is a Twins site, so you all know that. It is Superbowl time and it is the Vikings that we need to explore. In 1967 the first Superbowl was played. It was called the AFL/NFL championship and the Packers took on the Kansas City Chiefs. In those days the Packers were a mismatch for every team – NFL or AFL. Lombardi was so unbeatable they had to name the eventual Superbowl trophy after him. And the Packers put Jim Hornung, Jim Taylor, Bart Starr in the backfield behind an all-star line with future HOFs and a defense which also featured future HOF stars and the game started out slow – only 14 – 10 at half time. Then the Packers took over for a 35 – 10 victory. In January 1968 the game was called Superbowl II and the Packers were back and beat Oakland 33 – 14. By the third game the upstart AFL or AFC now had enough and a brash QB from NY promised a victory over the old established Colts and delivered; making Joe Namath a household word and an over rated star who followed up We knew who could get the glory back for the NFC/NFL – those mighty Norsemen from Minnesota. They did not even were cloaks or use heaters in the frigid winters of Minnesota. In Superbowl 4 the Purple People Eaters were taking center stage with stoic old Bud Grant at the helm and Hank Stram, with memories of his debacle with Green Bay, enthusiastically leading the Kansas City Chiefs back to the big game. The Vikings were ready after a challenging playoff set. I was at the game with the Rams in a very cold Metropolitan Stadium. No one could measure wind child because the wind swirled around the bowl of the stadium like a wind-chill tornado. We were all trying to stay warm by clapping with our choppers (mittens) and creating a dull roar. But the Vikings were cold and listless and at half time they looked like a team ready for the showers. Yet the fans who had endured more than the players would not let it happen. As the team left the field the roar started, and it continued beyond the last Viking to leave the field and could be heard in the locker room. We did not come to suffer frost bite for a loss. The players heads went up and there was a noticeable change. We won 23 – 20. Then on an even colder day we beat the Browns 27 – 7. There was nothing better than being in the bleachers where the wind could blow through our legs while the upper body was frozen from the stadium wind. In the Superbowl, we knew we could take the Chiefs, but something went wrong, either they had too much fun on Bourbon Street the night before or they had taken a Bud Grant pill and did not know it was okay to be excited and emotional in the big game. Most Minnesota fans were at home where it was still cold. We were frustrated because we could not clap our choppers together enough to send a shock wave to New Orleans and the team stunk and lost 23 – 7. We swallowed out disappointment because there is always next year, or rather there is four years in the future when this great team and great coach got to go to Houston to play in Superbowl VIII. We got to play the Miami Dolphins one year after their perfect season which was too bad. We lost 24 – 7 and once again our HOF coach did not have any emotions and neither did his team. If we had lost the year before at least we could have been part of a really historic undefeated year for the Dolphins. Instead we just stunk! Then came the next year – when we lost to Pittsburgh 16 – 6 back in New Orleans. This was getting beyond embarrassing. We were never in these games. Much as we feared, we still had another Superbowl in us and two years later in Superbowl XI we got whacked by Oakland 32 – 14. At least we scored in double figures. That was Superbowl XI and now it is LIII - 42 or XLII years later and we have not been back. We have memories like the Dallas push-off touchdown, the Knee, 41 – 0, Minnesota Miracle followed by a Philadelphia thumping, the famous Farve interception and Peterson fumbles… The Vikings are O-4 and I do not want to comment too much on our playoffs and league championship games. In the meantime, the Twins have been in two World Series in 1987 and 1991 and we won them both of them. Better to be a Twin than a Viking, I guess. Of course, I could end with stats, since they are so dominating in our world of sports right now. It is 67 years since the Twins and Vikings started. Collectively that is 134 sport years. We have been in 7 WS and SBs - .05% of the games. But to feel better there were not 67 Superbowls – this is LIII not LXVII – so we will change our statistical role to 7 out of 130 chances – we have been in .053% of the championships. Just to take the subject a little further – since two teams must be in each of these championships there are 16 teams that we compete with in the NFL and 15 in the AL. Our two teams are 2 out of 31 and if all things were equal we are .064% of the league possibilities and if we apply that to the 120 WS/Superbowls that have been played since 1961 debuts our fair share would be 7.68 and 4 wins – we are where we should be! But it would be nice if we won one of the Superbowls. Watch the game, relax and have a microbrew - SKOL
  12. The Dodgers may win. The Red Sox could see their magic disappear - this is baseball after all, but there are some story lines that I have really liked and wanted to point out. One of which is that talent - not analytics wins games. Sorry Aaron Gleeman, but when we retire APBA and other games and get to the teams and games that count there is much more than probability. So what are my take-aways so far? Relief pitchers can't match great starters. Milwaukee was a fun experiment in defying the tradition of starters and relievers, but in fact their relievers wore out. This over emphasis on Bullpen arms has a draw back because no one can pitch 162 games - sorry Mike Marshall I know you tried. And by the end of the year the accumulated games wear the pitchers down. Did anyone see the same Jeffress in the play-offs that succeeded in the regular season? The key games for the Brewers were when Chacin and Miley started and took care of some innings to take pressure off the pen. The Red Sox Bullpen has been lights out - but Price and Sales took some innings off the board first. The Dodgers got too smart with all its match ups and not only called on Madsen one too many times but shut down Baez when he had the momentum to stop the Sox. Strikeouts do matter. Look at the Red Sox. Down two strikes they do not give in, they do not go for the big whiff, they put the ball in play and then something happens. Of course it does not work every time, but a strike out is an out - every time. Red Sox players are not without power, but they are also not without speed and excitement. This is a team exuding what the great Rickey Henderson once had. They upset the other team, the pitchers, the catchers, the managers. The Dodgers have shown in the first two games that you should throw out the book sometimes. They put their good hitters on the bench for match ups that have lesser results. Their formula looks old, although home cooking could fix that. I really do think that the best teams from each league are playing each other and that is great. While I rooted for the A's and the Brewers, their styles were fun and unconventional, I am still pleased to see the teams with the best stars and the best organizations playing for the championship. My last note for the Twins - forget the Kershaw sweepstakes. He is aging and will still want a long term contract that in the end will look like the Pujols deal.
  13. I'm a five-minute walk away from the east-west commuter train that also stops at Fenway Park. So with Game 1 of the World Series being held at Fenway, Tuesday night, despite not being a diehard Red Sox fan and despite the forecast of iffy weather I felt like I'd be a fool not to take advantage of the logistics. The title for this blog entry is deceptive because I didn't actually "attend" the game. I didn't have tickets, and of course no way was I going to pay scalper prices. But I thought I'd enjoy the atmosphere outside the ballpark. It's like Wrigley, and maybe a few others, with thriving neighborhoods that are worth enjoying even when the home team isn't playing. I decided to arrive early, in part because I wasn't sure whether the train might already be packed with fans from further out, if I left nearer to game time. My train wasn't too bad, but they only come once an hour, and who knows what the next one was like. So, at 5:15 I arrived at Yawkey station (still so-named even though nearby Yawkey Way has been renamed back to Jersey Street). David Ortiz Drive is a short block leading to Brookline Avenue which is one of the bordering streets for the ballpark. It has uniform-number monuments to some of their greats. Here you see the ones for Boggs and Ortiz, and to the left you can see the obscured number for Pedro (45). My general plan was to wander around, until game time (8:10 or so), and then take the next train back home assuming things had quieted down outside the park. I was prepared to stay later, if some kind of awesomeness broke out. The area was already busy with people milling around. Cars were double-parked in several places, apparently with official blessing, and the parking lots were advertising a pretty consistent $60 fee. The commuter rail station had a sign stating that the last train of the night would be held until 1:00 am, more than an hour later than its normal schedule; since the game lasted until about midnight, that wasn't really overkill. I took a long way around, heading south on Brookline and then heading back up on Van Ness. Boston isn't really laid out on a grid and you can get disoriented pretty easily, but I've learned my way around Fenway by now. I reached the intersection with Jersey Street where several street vendors are set up and some of the entry gates to the ballpark are. That part of Jersey Street is actually part of the team's venue - the metal detectors and turnstiles are outdoors and the street is just a ballpark concourse on game day - which is why I couldn't use Jersey as part of my circuit. I kept walking, to Ipswich Street and then Landsdowne Street. It all was pretty busy - here is Landsdowne at its junction with Brookline, basically the end of my circuit. All the bars or restaurants I would have considered trying had huge lines of people waiting to get in, to little surprise. Security was everywhere you looked. Dogs sniffed the trunks of cars entering the parking lot within Fenway Park itself, SWAT team humvees were stationed in various places, heavy city trucks were eventually parked to block key intersections, and of course you were never out of sight of police officers (uniformed and I'm sure plainclothes). There also was the expected swarm of media vehicles. I mentioned not being willing to pay scalper's prices, but actually I don't think I had an opportunity. There were plenty of scalpers, but they were always asking if I had tickets to sell, not if I wanted to buy. I think I had seen $400 for standing room tickets, on StubHub. Whatever few tickets changed hands on the street at game time were apparently already spoken for. I saw a couple of people who seemed more normal and less scuzzy than the typical scalper, with signs begging for cheap tickets because they were diehard Sox fans or whatever, but I have little doubt that they would have immediately forgotten their loyalty to the team and would have turned a quick profit had someone been suckered in by their pleas. It wasn't raining when I arrived, but around sundown there started to be drizzle, and pretty soon it rained hard and there was significant lightning a mile or two away. I had brought an umbrella and was walking in light hiking boots, but those who had decided to rely on their hooded jackets decided to cram into the already crowded bars and restaurants, or else (if they had tickets) make their way into the ballpark, because the streets were suddenly pretty sparse of pedestrians. I walked the perimeter of the ballpark again. For some reason I never get tired of photographing the Citgo sign. Somewhere along the perimeter, I spotted a window into which you could see a makeshift Media Room. Even aside from the rain, I have to say that the atmosphere somewhat disappointed me. I guess I was expecting something like a big block party. There was one guy playing makeshift drums on the bridge over I-90, and a couple of times I heard a "Let's Go Red Sox" chant or similar commotion from people lined up to get inside the park, but that's just like a normal game day. A couple of locations on my circuit had a very strong odor of weed, I think maybe from the broadcast media enclave behind a chain link fence within the Fenway Park premises. I believe the Mayor and the Police Commisioner had let it be known that no nonsense was going to be brooked, and maybe that accounts for what I saw on the streets. Certainly, I wasn't hoping for hooliganism, especially with the presence of a smattering of Dodger Blue jerseys and hats, and I'm not sure exactly what I was hoping for, but this was altogether too normal. So buttoned-down. I opted to cut my evening slightly short and take a train that departed shortly before first pitch. Still, I'm glad I went. After sundown, the Prudential Building had their lights on to urge on the Sox to victory, and I think any baseball fan would have felt some excitement, Sox fan or not. Game 1 of the World Series, baby!
  14. Gladden had a dour demeanor that rubbed some people the wrong way. While with the Giants, he had exchanged blows with teammate Jeffrey Leonard during an on-field batting practice. The scuffle stemmed from Gladden’s tendency to take long batting practice sessions, fouling off balls and taking extra cuts. This practice irked Leonard and one day Leonard let Gladden know it. Gladden, not one to back down from a fight, jumped Leonard. According to Hank Greenwald, the Giants play-by-play announcer who witnessed the melee from the booth, the two went at it next to the batting cage and ended up rolling in the dirt before being separated by other teammates. Brunansky, who faced Gladden in the minors, said that he “hated” the way Gladden played the game back then. “He seemed arrogant,” the Twins right fielder said. “He didn't seem to care how he went about it.” In spite of the reputation, the Twins front office felt that the team needed some of that hard scrabble attitude. Unsatisfied with the performance of veteran Mickey Hatcher, McPhail looked elsewhere for help and targeted Gladden, but the transaction took forever to complete. "Every time I talked to (Giants general manager) Al Rosen, he asked for either Jeff Bumgarner or Steve Gasser,” McPhail told the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman. “I wasn’t going to give either one up.” “We talked about the deal at least once every week until we made it. Atlanta and the Dodgers were very interested in Gladden. The Giants had made a deal with the Reds for Eddie Milner, and they had an abundance of outfielders. Rosen was reluctant to trade him to a team in the National League. He didn’t want Gladden to come back and hurt him.” McPhail said that the trade discussions started early in the offseason during the winter meetings, but the back and forth prolonged the deal until well into spring training. “Rosen finally called one day late in March and said he was going to deal Gladden that day. He said he was willing to make the trade for three of our young pitching prospects. He gave me a list of five, I took two out, and we made the trade.” With Gladden acquired, the Twins cut Hatcher on March 31. It was a shock to the fan base. Hatcher, who had played with the Twins for the last six years with a .284 average but inconsistent playing time, saw the writing on the wall as spring training played out and manager Tom Kelly used him less frequently in the exhibition games. “After two weeks of being here I knew it was over for me,” Hatcher told reporters. “When you’re only playing once every four days, you get the idea. It was obvious they wanted to look at the younger players.” McPhail said he wanted speed. Gladden, who had nabbed 94 bases in 138 attempts with the Giants and was capable of playing center field, would provide that dimension. Additionally, he was tabbed to assume the leadoff hitter role in place of Puckett, who had a breakout power year in 1986, allowing him to hit in the middle of the order where he was better suited and where Tom Kelly wanted him to bat. (Once he assumed the interim manager title the previous September, Kelly shifted Puckett out of the leadoff and into the third spot.) Kelly, however, wasn’t sure what to do with Gladden initially. In the season’s first game Gladden led off but was the designated hitter. It wasn’t until five games later that he got his first start in the outfield, only it was in right field. Kelly preferred Randy Bush and Mark Davidson while spot starting Gladden on occasion. It was not until mid-May that Gladden solidified his role as the team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Almost immediately, Twins players took notice of Gladden’s attitude. “We didn’t know much about him but we found out soon,” said left-handed reliever Dan Schatzeder. “In one of the first games he played for us, he got into a jawing match with an umpire. He was asserting himself right away. We thought, ‘This guy’s going to be interesting.’” Interesting is right. It would be another eight months before his infamous fight with Lombardozzi, but Gladden was about to provide a very memorable punch against the Cardinals. **** In his second at-bat of Game 1, Gladden grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Tim Laudner at second. The at-bat was a microcosm of who Gladden was as a leadoff hitter. Magrane struggled with his command, walking three of the last four hitters he faced. Common baseball sense would be to exert patience and make the rookie pitcher sweat through his polyester. However, rather than making Magrane squirm, Gladden took a cut at the the first pitch -- a big curve, no less -- and bounced the ball harmlessly to Lawless at third who fired to Herr at second to retire Laudner. That was the frustrating part of Gladden as a leadoff hitter. Of course, even though Gladden ignored standard practice like making a pitcher throw a glutton of pitches, on the bases he was able to set up camp right in the pitcher's mind. In spite of eliminating the lead runner, Gladden, now at first base, became all-consuming to the Cardinals’ rookie lefty who struggle to hold runners. Magrane paid extra attention (and then some) to the irritating long-haired runner who had taken 25 bases on 34 attempts during the regular season. What's more, Gladden was 18 for 21 in attempts in the Metrodome that year. And Magrane was terrible when it came to slowing down the run game -- runners had swiped 18 bases on 21 tries. His big body and lack of a slide step gave runners ample time to trot to the next base. Gladden, with one foot on the turf and one foot in the dirt cut-out, was an itch that Magrane needed to scratch constantly. Before even throwing a pitch to Gagne, he thew over to first nine consecutive times. Afterwards, Magrane admitted the obvious that he had obsessed over Gladden. “I messed around with him too much,” Magrane said. “I felt if he was going to go, it was going to be on the first pitch. I should have gone after the hitter a lot more. But I just messed around with him too much.” A batter later, Gladden eventually did swipe that base but was stranded there when Puckett grounded out to second. It would be in his next at bat, with the bases loaded and Magrane out of the game, that Gladden would break the game wide open. Gladden was rejuvenated during the Detroit series after the second half of the year saw his production drop off a cliff. After hitting .283/.337/.405 in the first half, he went .195/.273/.290 the rest of the way after the break. In the ALCS Gladden went 7-for-20 (.350), scored five and drove in another five. He did miss out on the opportunity to add to his RBI total when he failed to convert during a bases loaded appearance in Game 4: With the bags filled and two outs in the second inning, the Tigers’ Frank Tanana threw Gladden three straight breaking balls and ended the threat without the ball being put into play. In the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, with Hrbek, Lombardozzi and Laudner occupying the bases, Gladden was given a second chance to do some damage. With his golden hair escaping out of the back of his navy helmet by several inches, Gladden assumed his standard closed stance at the plate -- his front foot almost touching the plate-side batter’s box chalk and his back foot splayed out behind him -- and teased his bat several times in Cardinals' reliever Bob Forsch’s direction. Forsch started Gladden off with a fastball up and away for ball one. On the 1-0 count, the pent-up party atmosphere of the Dome’s left field bleachers released a beach ball onto the field, causing a break in the action while Willie McGee grabbed and tossed the ball over the plastic wall in center. “What’s a ballgame without a beach ball these days,” Michaels inquired to the audience during the brief delay. Dome announcer Bob Casey took that moment to remind the crowd not to throw things on the playing field. After the brief delay, Forsch tried to hit the outside corner again with a fastball but it drifted back over the plate. Gladden was behind and fouled into the first base stands. Forsch then went to the breaking ball on the outer half that Gladden spun down the first base line. Similar to the Detroit series, Gladden now had the bases loaded with two strikes. Then Forsch made a critical mistake. He went back to the curveball. Maybe it wasn’t so much that Forsch went back to the curveball but that he didn’t bury the breaking ball as much as he should have. Forsch’s curve was a looper that started at the belt and broke to the knees. Gladden was out over his front leg when he greeted the pitch and lifted it towards left field. Off the bat, it looked like a chip shot. But it carried. http://i.imgur.com/HRGSXL8.gif “High in the air to deep left field,” Michaels bellowed as Gladden’s shot drifted toward the plexiglass-guarded fans. “Coleman goes back...a grand slam!” The 55,171 people in attendance fell into hysteria. Reports later said that the decibel level reached 118. At that level, it was similar to sitting next to an ambulance siren or a jackhammer, a level of exposure that is only recommended for less than 30 seconds. The Metrodome crowd roared like that for several minutes. The first grand slam in a World Series game since 1970 put the Twins squarely ahead 7 to 1. Gladden later joked to the media that he should have put his “flap” down, the act of keeping one arm motionless while rounding the bases. “I was pretty excited running around the bases” said Gladden, a former Giant. 'I thought about putting my flap down like Jeffrey Leonard, but I thought twice about it.” Had Gladden opted for the flap-down look, it would have been a solid troll move to start the opening game of the series. The St. Louis Cardinals had seen plenty of Leonard’s “one flap down” routine during a contentious National League Championship Series. “I don’t like Jeffrey Leonard,” said Cardinals pitcher John Tudor. “It’s no secret to him or anyone else.” That feeling was shared by most of Tudor’s teammates. In Game 3, Bob Forsch dotted him with a pitch that Leonard felt was intentional. In Game 4, Leonard had already launched a home run deep to left field when later he tried to score from first on a misplayed fly ball. The relay reached home plate and the waiting Cardinals’ catcher Tony Pena in plenty of time. Rather than sliding, Leonard came in high and Pena took the opportunity to place a “tag” right in Leonard’s mug. The Twins were now firmly in the driver’s seat and the stadium was rocking off its hinges. Greg Gagne, who followed Gladden at the plate, said afterwards that the volume of the crowd was unbelievable. “After Gladden hit that grand slam, I was in the batter's box and my ears were ringing. I asked Tony (Pena) if his ears were ringing and he couldn’t even hear me.” **** As bedlam overtook in the Dome, the action outside throughout the Twin Cities was just as Twins-centric. With tickets difficult to obtain, fans waited around the Metrodome ticket offices for over an hour after the start of the game in hopes of landing an unclaimed ticket. At the Orpheum Theater, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon performed in front of 1,500 fans and provided them with continuous updates of the score for Game 1. Zevon worked Kirby Puckett’s name into one of his songs and disparaged the Cardinals in another. For an encore, he returned to the stage with a Twins jersey. Back on the mound Frank Viola remained a magician. Viola was unsolvable for the majority of the game. Having a 10-1 lead didn’t hurt either. Outside of the Puckett misplay that led to the Cardinals’ only run, he was virtually flawless. Prior to being pulled after eight innings, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first from the fourth inning on. Interestingly enough, if things had gone differently and the Twins were inclined to shop Viola during the lean years, he may have been in the other dugout. “I’ve always like Viola,” Whitey Herzog told the Star Tribune’s Steve Aschburner. “We’ve tried to get him for years. He’s a premier pitcher. He knows how to pitch, he changes speeds real well. He pitched an outstanding ball game.” Gladden added an RBI double in the seventh inning, cementing his spot as the game’s most valuable offensive player. His five RBI in one game topped the five he drove in through the entire ALCS series. He had gone from a roster afterthought to a celebrity in the span of two and a half hours. The crowd was delirious leaving the ballpark. Outside the Metrodome, each local TV newscast positioned a reporter on the scene and each reporter was inundated with fans chanting “we’re number one” or the Twins fight song. No doubt that the lopsided results of Game 1 had people thinking that this series would be over after the next three games. With the area’s population all clamoring to participate in the largest screamfest the state had ever seen, Kent Hrbek offered up words that every Twins fan unable to join the party thought. “I wished they had built a bigger stadium.” **** Previous installments... Tame The Tigers Dealt The Cards
  15. The nickname “Wrench” -- short for “Mr Goodwrench” -- came from Kent Hrbek. Hrbek said that Dan Gladden looked like he finished performing an oil change on a car. “He reminds you of a guy who took four auto-shop classes in high school,” Hrbek explained to Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy. ''Dan could strike out four times and somehow get dirty. The guy is a piece of work.'' “Wrench” was the perfect description for how Gladden played the game. With his speed, grit and hustle, it sometimes felt like he was hitting you with one.Gladden had a dour demeanor that rubbed some people the wrong way. While with the Giants, he had exchanged blows with teammate Jeffrey Leonard during an on-field batting practice. The scuffle stemmed from Gladden’s tendency to take long batting practice sessions, fouling off balls and taking extra cuts. This practice irked Leonard and one day Leonard let Gladden know it. Gladden, not one to back down from a fight, jumped Leonard. According to Hank Greenwald, the Giants play-by-play announcer who witnessed the melee from the booth, the two went at it next to the batting cage and ended up rolling in the dirt before being separated by other teammates. Brunansky, who faced Gladden in the minors, said that he “hated” the way Gladden played the game back then. “He seemed arrogant,” the Twins right fielder said. “He didn't seem to care how he went about it.” In spite of the reputation, the Twins front office felt that the team needed some of that hard scrabble attitude. Unsatisfied with the performance of veteran Mickey Hatcher, McPhail looked elsewhere for help and targeted Gladden, but the transaction took forever to complete. "Every time I talked to (Giants general manager) Al Rosen, he asked for either Jeff Bumgarner or Steve Gasser,” McPhail told the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman. “I wasn’t going to give either one up.” “We talked about the deal at least once every week until we made it. Atlanta and the Dodgers were very interested in Gladden. The Giants had made a deal with the Reds for Eddie Milner, and they had an abundance of outfielders. Rosen was reluctant to trade him to a team in the National League. He didn’t want Gladden to come back and hurt him.” McPhail said that the trade discussions started early in the offseason during the winter meetings, but the back and forth prolonged the deal until well into spring training. “Rosen finally called one day late in March and said he was going to deal Gladden that day. He said he was willing to make the trade for three of our young pitching prospects. He gave me a list of five, I took two out, and we made the trade.” With Gladden acquired, the Twins cut Hatcher on March 31. It was a shock to the fan base. Hatcher, who had played with the Twins for the last six years with a .284 average but inconsistent playing time, saw the writing on the wall as spring training played out and manager Tom Kelly used him less frequently in the exhibition games. “After two weeks of being here I knew it was over for me,” Hatcher told reporters. “When you’re only playing once every four days, you get the idea. It was obvious they wanted to look at the younger players.” McPhail said he wanted speed. Gladden, who had nabbed 94 bases in 138 attempts with the Giants and was capable of playing center field, would provide that dimension. Additionally, he was tabbed to assume the leadoff hitter role in place of Puckett, who had a breakout power year in 1986, allowing him to hit in the middle of the order where he was better suited and where Tom Kelly wanted him to bat. (Once he assumed the interim manager title the previous September, Kelly shifted Puckett out of the leadoff and into the third spot.) Kelly, however, wasn’t sure what to do with Gladden initially. In the season’s first game Gladden led off but was the designated hitter. It wasn’t until five games later that he got his first start in the outfield, only it was in right field. Kelly preferred Randy Bush and Mark Davidson while spot starting Gladden on occasion. It was not until mid-May that Gladden solidified his role as the team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Almost immediately, Twins players took notice of Gladden’s attitude. “We didn’t know much about him but we found out soon,” said left-handed reliever Dan Schatzeder. “In one of the first games he played for us, he got into a jawing match with an umpire. He was asserting himself right away. We thought, ‘This guy’s going to be interesting.’” Interesting is right. It would be another eight months before his infamous fight with Lombardozzi, but Gladden was about to provide a very memorable punch against the Cardinals. **** In his second at-bat of Game 1, Gladden grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Tim Laudner at second. The at-bat was a microcosm of who Gladden was as a leadoff hitter. Magrane struggled with his command, walking three of the last four hitters he faced. Common baseball sense would be to exert patience and make the rookie pitcher sweat through his polyester. However, rather than making Magrane squirm, Gladden took a cut at the the first pitch -- a big curve, no less -- and bounced the ball harmlessly to Lawless at third who fired to Herr at second to retire Laudner. That was the frustrating part of Gladden as a leadoff hitter. Of course, even though Gladden ignored standard practice like making a pitcher throw a glutton of pitches, on the bases he was able to set up camp right in the pitcher's mind. In spite of eliminating the lead runner, Gladden, now at first base, became all-consuming to the Cardinals’ rookie lefty who struggle to hold runners. Magrane paid extra attention (and then some) to the irritating long-haired runner who had taken 25 bases on 34 attempts during the regular season. What's more, Gladden was 18 for 21 in attempts in the Metrodome that year. And Magrane was terrible when it came to slowing down the run game -- runners had swiped 18 bases on 21 tries. His big body and lack of a slide step gave runners ample time to trot to the next base. Gladden, with one foot on the turf and one foot in the dirt cut-out, was an itch that Magrane needed to scratch constantly. Before even throwing a pitch to Gagne, he thew over to first nine consecutive times. Afterwards, Magrane admitted the obvious that he had obsessed over Gladden. “I messed around with him too much,” Magrane said. “I felt if he was going to go, it was going to be on the first pitch. I should have gone after the hitter a lot more. But I just messed around with him too much.” A batter later, Gladden eventually did swipe that base but was stranded there when Puckett grounded out to second. It would be in his next at bat, with the bases loaded and Magrane out of the game, that Gladden would break the game wide open. Gladden was rejuvenated during the Detroit series after the second half of the year saw his production drop off a cliff. After hitting .283/.337/.405 in the first half, he went .195/.273/.290 the rest of the way after the break. In the ALCS Gladden went 7-for-20 (.350), scored five and drove in another five. He did miss out on the opportunity to add to his RBI total when he failed to convert during a bases loaded appearance in Game 4: With the bags filled and two outs in the second inning, the Tigers’ Frank Tanana threw Gladden three straight breaking balls and ended the threat without the ball being put into play. In the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, with Hrbek, Lombardozzi and Laudner occupying the bases, Gladden was given a second chance to do some damage. With his golden hair escaping out of the back of his navy helmet by several inches, Gladden assumed his standard closed stance at the plate -- his front foot almost touching the plate-side batter’s box chalk and his back foot splayed out behind him -- and teased his bat several times in Cardinals' reliever Bob Forsch’s direction. Forsch started Gladden off with a fastball up and away for ball one. On the 1-0 count, the pent-up party atmosphere of the Dome’s left field bleachers released a beach ball onto the field, causing a break in the action while Willie McGee grabbed and tossed the ball over the plastic wall in center. “What’s a ballgame without a beach ball these days,” Michaels inquired to the audience during the brief delay. Dome announcer Bob Casey took that moment to remind the crowd not to throw things on the playing field. After the brief delay, Forsch tried to hit the outside corner again with a fastball but it drifted back over the plate. Gladden was behind and fouled into the first base stands. Forsch then went to the breaking ball on the outer half that Gladden spun down the first base line. Similar to the Detroit series, Gladden now had the bases loaded with two strikes. Then Forsch made a critical mistake. He went back to the curveball. Maybe it wasn’t so much that Forsch went back to the curveball but that he didn’t bury the breaking ball as much as he should have. Forsch’s curve was a looper that started at the belt and broke to the knees. Gladden was out over his front leg when he greeted the pitch and lifted it towards left field. Off the bat, it looked like a chip shot. But it carried. http://i.imgur.com/HRGSXL8.gif “High in the air to deep left field,” Michaels bellowed as Gladden’s shot drifted toward the plexiglass-guarded fans. “Coleman goes back...a grand slam!” The 55,171 people in attendance fell into hysteria. Reports later said that the decibel level reached 118. At that level, it was similar to sitting next to an ambulance siren or a jackhammer, a level of exposure that is only recommended for less than 30 seconds. The Metrodome crowd roared like that for several minutes. The first grand slam in a World Series game since 1970 put the Twins squarely ahead 7 to 1. Gladden later joked to the media that he should have put his “flap” down, the act of keeping one arm motionless while rounding the bases. “I was pretty excited running around the bases” said Gladden, a former Giant. 'I thought about putting my flap down like Jeffrey Leonard, but I thought twice about it.” Had Gladden opted for the flap-down look, it would have been a solid troll move to start the opening game of the series. The St. Louis Cardinals had seen plenty of Leonard’s “one flap down” routine during a contentious National League Championship Series. “I don’t like Jeffrey Leonard,” said Cardinals pitcher John Tudor. “It’s no secret to him or anyone else.” That feeling was shared by most of Tudor’s teammates. In Game 3, Bob Forsch dotted him with a pitch that Leonard felt was intentional. In Game 4, Leonard had already launched a home run deep to left field when later he tried to score from first on a misplayed fly ball. The relay reached home plate and the waiting Cardinals’ catcher Tony Pena in plenty of time. Rather than sliding, Leonard came in high and Pena took the opportunity to place a “tag” right in Leonard’s mug. The Twins were now firmly in the driver’s seat and the stadium was rocking off its hinges. Greg Gagne, who followed Gladden at the plate, said afterwards that the volume of the crowd was unbelievable. “After Gladden hit that grand slam, I was in the batter's box and my ears were ringing. I asked Tony (Pena) if his ears were ringing and he couldn’t even hear me.” **** As bedlam overtook in the Dome, the action outside throughout the Twin Cities was just as Twins-centric. With tickets difficult to obtain, fans waited around the Metrodome ticket offices for over an hour after the start of the game in hopes of landing an unclaimed ticket. At the Orpheum Theater, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon performed in front of 1,500 fans and provided them with continuous updates of the score for Game 1. Zevon worked Kirby Puckett’s name into one of his songs and disparaged the Cardinals in another. For an encore, he returned to the stage with a Twins jersey. Back on the mound Frank Viola remained a magician. Viola was unsolvable for the majority of the game. Having a 10-1 lead didn’t hurt either. Outside of the Puckett misplay that led to the Cardinals’ only run, he was virtually flawless. Prior to being pulled after eight innings, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first from the fourth inning on. Interestingly enough, if things had gone differently and the Twins were inclined to shop Viola during the lean years, he may have been in the other dugout. “I’ve always like Viola,” Whitey Herzog told the Star Tribune’s Steve Aschburner. “We’ve tried to get him for years. He’s a premier pitcher. He knows how to pitch, he changes speeds real well. He pitched an outstanding ball game.” Gladden added an RBI double in the seventh inning, cementing his spot as the game’s most valuable offensive player. His five RBI in one game topped the five he drove in through the entire ALCS series. He had gone from a roster afterthought to a celebrity in the span of two and a half hours. The crowd was delirious leaving the ballpark. Outside the Metrodome, each local TV newscast positioned a reporter on the scene and each reporter was inundated with fans chanting “we’re number one” or the Twins fight song. No doubt that the lopsided results of Game 1 had people thinking that this series would be over after the next three games. With the area’s population all clamoring to participate in the largest screamfest the state had ever seen, Kent Hrbek offered up words that every Twins fan unable to join the party thought. “I wished they had built a bigger stadium.” **** Previous installments... Tame The Tigers Dealt The Cards Click here to view the article
  16. A new NFL champion will be crowned in at US Bank Stadium later this evening, which will set off a massive celebration in the new champ’s home city. Parties, parades, more merchandise than you can imagine and, of course, commemorative souvenir special sections in their newspapers. Let’s take a quick look back at the Star Tribune’s special sections from the 1987 and 1991 World Series for old times’ sake.Game 7 of the 1987 World Series was Sunday, Oct. 25, and the special section was published that following Thursday. The cover was a giant picture from the parade with this box of text with the headline “Minnesota Magic.” Download attachment: 87FrontText.jpg That may be a little difficult to read, so I typed it up below. I get goosebumps every time I read it. “America, you gotta believe.” The banner hanging in the Metrodome outfield in Game 7 shouted the conviction of a baseball team and its fans. It’s finally Minnesota's turn to be No. 1. World Champions. They were a team of strugglers, overachievers, regular guys — long on heart, short on superstars. That was the best part because it was so Minnesota. A team considered so unlikely to win it all that Las Vegas took 150-1 odds against the Twins. It seemed magical. The Twins were unbeatable in the Dome, where fans created the ultimate home-field advantage. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth watched the World Series and declared, “These are the best baseball fans I have ever seen.” The Minnesota Twins made sports history this October. You helped make it happen. Now remember. This photo of Kent Hrbek losing his mind — arms up in celebration, dogpile already starting to form — is a classic. Download attachment: 87Hrbek.jpg You can’t talk about a Twins title without mentioning the Homer Hanky. Here’s a great ad from the paper: Download attachment: 87AdHanky.jpg Along with all the ring, special news coverage, merchandising and all that stuff, winning a title gives you the opportunity to do all sorts of other silly stuff, like make music videos. Here’s an ad for the Berenguer Boogie: Download attachment: 87AdBerenguer.jpg What was the Berenguer Boogie? Thankfully someone has uploaded it to YouTube, because words can’t do it justice: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was on Sunday Oct. 27 and, again, the special section was released the following Thursday, which was Halloween. Hmmm, Halloween 1991 … why does that day seem to stick out for some reason? … Download attachment: 91Cover.jpg It was a series to savor, indeed. A variation of this iconic photo of Dan Gladden and an upended Greg Olsen made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dazzle was tagged out on the play, which came in Game 1 of the series, but the Twins had already built a four-run lead by then. Download attachment: 91Dazzle.jpg Here’s another just incredible shot: The Catch. Download attachment: 91TheCatch.jpg Kirby looks like he must’ve found a trampoline hidden on the warning track to catapult himself that high off the ground. Twins fans looked on with bated breath, but we know Kirby wasn’t going to let the Twins lose that night. His walkoff homer later that evening went to nearly the same spot. Of course, Puckett’s blast cleared the 13-foot tall plexiglass wall and Jack Buck delivered one of the most famous home run calls of all time. Don't worry, we'll get to Jack Morris and Game 7 a little later today. Let’s get some good vibes flowing. What are some of your favorite memories from the Twins’ World Series championships? The Twin Cities are buzzing with the Super Bowl in town, but what was the aftermath of those championship seasons like? Click here to view the article
  17. Game 7 of the 1987 World Series was Sunday, Oct. 25, and the special section was published that following Thursday. The cover was a giant picture from the parade with this box of text with the headline “Minnesota Magic.” That may be a little difficult to read, so I typed it up below. I get goosebumps every time I read it. “America, you gotta believe.” The banner hanging in the Metrodome outfield in Game 7 shouted the conviction of a baseball team and its fans. It’s finally Minnesota's turn to be No. 1. World Champions. They were a team of strugglers, overachievers, regular guys — long on heart, short on superstars. That was the best part because it was so Minnesota. A team considered so unlikely to win it all that Las Vegas took 150-1 odds against the Twins. It seemed magical. The Twins were unbeatable in the Dome, where fans created the ultimate home-field advantage. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth watched the World Series and declared, “These are the best baseball fans I have ever seen.” The Minnesota Twins made sports history this October. You helped make it happen. Now remember. This photo of Kent Hrbek losing his mind — arms up in celebration, dogpile already starting to form — is a classic. You can’t talk about a Twins title without mentioning the Homer Hanky. Here’s a great ad from the paper: Along with all the ring, special news coverage, merchandising and all that stuff, winning a title gives you the opportunity to do all sorts of other silly stuff, like make music videos. Here’s an ad for the Berenguer Boogie: What was the Berenguer Boogie? Thankfully someone has uploaded it to YouTube, because words can’t do it justice: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was on Sunday Oct. 27 and, again, the special section was released the following Thursday, which was Halloween. Hmmm, Halloween 1991 … why does that day seem to stick out for some reason? … It was a series to savor, indeed. A variation of this iconic photo of Dan Gladden and an upended Greg Olsen made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dazzle was tagged out on the play, which came in Game 1 of the series, but the Twins had already built a four-run lead by then. Here’s another just incredible shot: The Catch. Kirby looks like he must’ve found a trampoline hidden on the warning track to catapult himself that high off the ground. Twins fans looked on with bated breath, but we know Kirby wasn’t going to let the Twins lose that night. His walkoff homer later that evening went to nearly the same spot. Of course, Puckett’s blast cleared the 13-foot tall plexiglass wall and Jack Buck delivered one of the most famous home run calls of all time. Don't worry, we'll get to Jack Morris and Game 7 a little later today. Let’s get some good vibes flowing. What are some of your favorite memories from the Twins’ World Series championships? The Twin Cities are buzzing with the Super Bowl in town, but what was the aftermath of those championship seasons like?
  18. http://deadspin.com/watch-newly-discovered-footage-of-d-c-s-1924-world-seri-1641710800?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&utm_source=deadspin_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
  19. Now that my parents are retired, they have been dropping off boxes left and right. This was in one of the boxes they dropped off today. I was 8 years old. I went to game six with my dad. There is also a Homer Hanky in the box. Ahh memories ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Dad wrote a fiction book centered around the Twins titled "Mr. Base Man" - Check it out on Amazon, only $3.99 - http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Base-Man-eb...7960681&sr=8-1
  20. We all have our own predictions, so why not get them on record before the season starts! (I know the Mariners just beat the A's, but I doubt either team is going to make it in anyone's playoff predictions) NL West: San Francisco Giants NL Central: Cincinnati Reds NL East: Philadelphia Phillies NL Wild Card: Miami Marlins NL Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals AL West: Texas Rangers AL Central: Detroit Tigers AL East: Boston Red Sox AL Wild Card: New York Yankees AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim World Series: Red Sox over Reds in 5 games.
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